Maharashtra Open: ‘Brand Chennai Open helped bag top players’

MSLTA Honorary Secretary Sunder Iyer says how Chennai, the earlier venue for the ATP 250 event, had created a positive image of India in international players.

Stan Wawrinka

MSLTA expected Wawrinka to come back but the four-time champion, who is recovering from an injury, wasn't sure when he could start his season.   -  AFP

World No. 6 Marin Cilic– along with notable figures like Robin Haase, Kevin Anderson and defending champion Roberto Bautista-Agut – is set to headline the Maharashtra Open, scheduled from January 1, 2018 at the Balewadi Stadium in Pune.

READ:  Cilic, Anderson to headline inaugural Maharashtra Open

Earlier this year, the tournament moved out of Chennai owing to sponsorship issues which led to rumours that the change could close doors for top international players due to the cold conditions in Pune.

Being the first tournament of the season, many internationals preferred the ATP 250 event in the blistering Chennai weather before plying their trade in the sultry Australian Open.

Sunder Iyer, honorary secretary, Maharashtra State Lawn Tennis Association, is relieved that didn't happen. But he thanked brand ‘Chennai Open’ for creating a positive image of tennis in India. “Striking the deal was easy and there was no issue. I think it was done through IMG-R. We are happy with the draw as the change in venue did not make a difference. There were apprehensions regarding the weather and transport. It stands negated as people are happy about the names,” he told Sportstar.

“The reputation of Chennai also helped getting the players. They had built a brand for 21 years, it is a big brand for tennis. The players are aware of India and its hospitality. India has been portrayed very positively to them,” he added.

However, Iyer rued missing out on the four-time champion Stan Wawrinka. “People were speculating that Wawrinka will be back. When we were talking, he wasn’t sure when he would start his season. He had no idea. I think Cilic is one of the best guys. It is satisfying to have so many players from the top 70 in the middle of other big tournaments ,” he revealed.

A knee injury during the ATP World Tour in August ended Wawrinka’s 2017 season.